Fire near Launch Pad Cancels H-2B Rocket Launch in Japan

Society Science Technology

Tanegashima, Kagoshima Pref., Sept. 11 (Jiji Press)--A fire broke out near the launch pad of an H-2 B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in the small hours of Wednesday, forcing the liftoff of the rocket to be called off.

The fire, which occurred around 3:05 a.m. (6:05 p.m. Tuesday GMT), was almost extinguished in some two hours.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. <7011>, which is in charge of the rocket project, canceled the launch, scheduled for 6:33 a.m., saying it will take time to examine the impact of the fire on the rocket.

According to the Japanese company, the fire is believed to have broken out near an opening at the bottom of the mobile launch pad. The opening is designed for the escape of smoke and fire emitted from the rocket's main engine and four rocket boosters.

When the fire broke out, a prelaunch inspection was under way after the rocket, the H-2B Launch Vehicle No. 8 carrying an unmanned cargo spacecraft, was filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel. There was no abnormality indicated in the monitor to detect fuel leakage.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press